Aronia berries are known for their high antioxidant powers. The typical American name for the berry that grows on the plant is the chokeberry.
Perhaps the Black Chokeberry (Aronia melancarpa/Aronia melanocarpa) is the most popular of these berries. Due to the dark color of the berries, the fruit is high in antioxidants.
The berries are closely related to blueberries and have higher antioxidant levels than blueberries or even pomegranates.
Although the berries are native to North America, they have become popular in Europe. They are grown there in gardens and on berry farms. The aronia juice produced from the berries is known to help people with heart problems. At the same time, the berries can also offer many other health benefits.
Let’s look at everything you need to know about the aronia berry.
Nutritional Value of Aronia Berries
Even before you consider the benefits of the antioxidants in aronia berries, they are a good option for a healthy snack thanks to their nutritional value. The fruit is low in calories but high in manganese, Vitamin C, and fiber.
Here’s the nutritional information for 1 ounce of aronia berries:
- Calories – 13
- Fiber – 1.5 grams
- Protein – 0.4 grams
- Fat – 0.1 grams
- Carbohydrates – 2.7 grams
- Manganese – 9% of your recommended daily consumption
- Vitamin C – 10% of your recommended daily consumption
- Vitamin K – 5% of your recommended daily consumption
Aronia berries are also a source of other minerals and vitamins, including potassium, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Health Benefits of Aronia Berries
Alongside the nutrients you’ll benefit from, aronia berries have high levels of proanthocyanins and quinic acid, which can help prevent urinary tract infections. In fact, the berries have ten times the amount of quinic acid than cranberries.
Consuming whole aronia berries, or berry extracts, can have several health benefits, including either helping to combat or prevent:
- Cardiovascular Ailments
- Circulatory Problems
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Influenza (Flu)
The University of Maryland did a study on the choke berry and found that this antioxidant berry may provide protection against colon cancer (Source: Nutrition and Cancer 2006). The berry also has a high ORAC Value.
Studies have also shown that aronia berry extract can reduce the oxidative stress on the body related to breast cancer (source).
Studies on aronia berries continue, and the definitive health benefits remain to be seen. Still, there is early evidence that consuming regular portions of aronia berries or berry extracts can help to boost your immune system, lower your total cholesterol, tackle high blood pressure and bring it under control, improve your heart health and overall organ health, and improve blood sugar levels too.
No wonder it is considered a superfood!
Uses for Aronia Berries
Historically, the berries were consumed by Native Americans right from the vines or shrubs. They also used them for dye, as the berries are very dark.
Nowadays, the berries are used to make jelly, candies, pies, jams, breads and muffins, cookie fillings, yogurt, flavored milk, aronia juice, and sorbet, among other things. Of course, you can also blend them up in your smoothies.
Aronia Berry Availability
You can buy seeds or plants online if you want to grow your own aronia berries. The shrub commonly grows in North America but doesn’t tend to flourish in hot weather, preferring a mild climate. If you want to grow your own berries, be prepared because it can take three years for berries to appear on the plant.
You can buy aronia berries in health stores or online if you’re looking for a more immediate solution. You can also buy powdered aronia berries that have been freeze-dried to preserve their goodness – these are widely available online and one of the easiest ways to enjoy the benefits without worrying about freshness or storage.
While the plant is native to North America, it has become popular in Europe, mainly thanks to the wide-ranging health benefits of the berry and the desire for gardeners to cultivate their own supply.
Taste and Preparation
While it’s good to know that aronia berries are beneficial to eat, you’ll also want to know whether you’ll actually enjoy them!
What Does Aronia Berry Taste Like?
Aronia berries are known for having a very sharp, tart taste. This results from the tannins in the berries, which are chemicals that will leave your mouth feeling quite dry. The sharpness is not to everyone’s preferences, so you may prefer to use aronia berries or berry extracts in other products to help soften the taste.
How Many Aronia Berries Should I Eat in a Day?
If you want to enjoy the benefits of aronia berries, it’s recommended to aim for between 20 and 30 berries per day. One ounce of berries is approximately the same as 30 berries. However, some believe that you will enjoy the beneficial effects of the flavonoids more if you split the portion – so perhaps 10 berries in your morning smoothie, 10 as a snack, and 10 in yogurt in the afternoon.
It’s best to avoid eating more than this recommended portion. While the side effects of aronia berries are minimal, consuming too many could result in diarrhea, as is often the case with nutrition-rich fruits.
Are Aronia Berries Safe To Eat Raw?
Aronia berries are safe to be eaten raw. Still, because of their mouth-drying effect, many people prefer to avoid eating them as a standalone food, instead mixing the berries into other dishes or baking them into products so that they are not just dealing with a sharp, drying taste. They work well when added to moist products with other flavors, such as a smoothie or a mixed juice.
How Do You Know When Aronia Berries Are Ripe?
It is challenging to know precisely when aronia berries are ripe. The berries will start green before turning red and then black, but even once they are black, you should wait 3-4 weeks before you harvest them to get the maximum nutritional benefit and flavor. If there is any hint of red in the berry, you need to leave it longer to fully ripen.
It is worth adding aronia berries, or chokeberries, to your regular diet for many reasons. While studies are still being conducted, the health benefits are excellent and can help prevent certain health conditions and diseases.
The taste can be an issue for some people, so it is best to bake aronia berries into cakes, muffins, or other products; turn them into sauces or syrups; or mix them into smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt. But try it as a snack if you want to – some people will like the tart flavor.